Two Cities Twelve

Nov 7 2016 | By More

Two Cities Community Tale

The big Touring Consortium Theatre Company production of A Tale of Two Cities opens at the King’s Theatre this week, but, unlike most shows coming into the theatre, it won’t just be the touring actors on the stage.

As we reported back in June, the company is using a community cast of a dozen local amateur performers – the so-called Two Cities Twelves – in each of the nine venues on the tour.

twocitytwelveIn Edinburgh, Æ reader Suzanne Senior – who has performed in several amateur productions – will be one of the twelve. Here she reports on her progress and the differences between performing in an amateur production, and as an amateur in a professional production.

My rocky journey towards appearing in this production started in June when I saw the casting call on the Facebook page of I was intrigued and very much wanted to take part, but couldn’t make the audition date due to a prior commitment to a team tennis match!

Although I corresponded with Neale, the Associate Producer, in a vain attempt to find a mutually suitable time, it wasn’t possible, so, for a while, I resigned myself to disappointment. However, not being one to give up easily, I wrote to him to ask if there was a waiting list, and, if there was, to ask if he could add my name. He agreed, and even promised I would be first in the queue! Despite this, I had no expectation, and the potential opportunity receded into the background for the summer.

Imagine my surprise when, a week into September, I received an email from him to say that someone had dropped out and there was now a place for me! I couldn’t contain my excitement – I was going to be in a professional production at the King’s Theatre and have the chance to work with professional directors and actors. My persistence had paid off!

I have been involved, for many years, in the amateur acting scene, although less so recently, but this was different – a chance to get a taste of what it would be like to do it for a living (albeit that we would not get paid and would be doing it solely for the experience).

The Two Cities Twelve from a previous city. Photo: Touring Consortium Theatre Company

The Two Cities Twelve from a previous city. Photo: Touring Consortium Theatre Company

On Thursday we had our first rehearsal, so it was with a mixture of trepidation and excitement that I hurried down Gilmore Place, desperately wanting not to be late and create a bad impression. We were to meet in the Box Office at 7pm; I didn’t recognise any of the other names on the email list, so this added to my anxiety. What if they were all unfriendly and judgemental? What if I tripped over the furniture and created havoc in the rehearsal?

Other actors who have worked with me know that this is not beyond the realms of possibility. Indeed the nadir of my stage career happened several years ago when I had to “knee” a fellow actor in a certain part of his anatomy. Unfortunately for him, I took him at his word when he asked me to aim higher, with disastrous consequences, as he gave me an agonised look, grabbed my shoulders, overbalanced and fell on top of me, all in front of a bemused audience! He then ran off, allegedly to cry in the dressing-room. Ever since, I have been keen to avoid similar calamities on stage.

Fortunately, when I arrived at the theatre, I realised I need not have worried. Both the chorus cast (to be known hitherto as #TwoCitiesTwelve), and the Associate Producer, Neale Birch, were friendly and supportive. The rehearsal started off with a talk and some theatre games, and then we were launched into rehearsing the first scene. He talked about the Stanislavski techniques of using objectives and obstacles, and fired us up into expressing various emotions as he acted out parts of the play himself. We were to hate some characters but admire others. We were to be horrified, vengeful, angry and upset, at different junctures.


It was all fascinating and totally absorbing. His explanations were very clear, and he made each of us feel as if we had a valuable part to play in the ensemble, quite a feat that many directors do not achieve. I felt that this is what it would be like to be a professional, and, like a drug, I wanted more. The time sped by and I couldn’t wait for the next rehearsal.

Rehearsal two was the day after – another three hours of intensive coaching. After a warm-up he gave us exercises to protect our voices as we would be doing a lot of shouting! I was very impressed as it showed a commitment to ensuring the safety of his cast (or maybe he just didn’t want us to sue!). We continued by rehearsing the same scenes in more depth and adding others.

I discovered that our tasks also involved clearing the set (under the guise of ransacking a chateau!). In fact, a blogger on the theatre company website compared his cast to noisier versions of the Wombles! In any case, it was all very slick and organised. I enjoyed this rehearsal as much as the first and skipped out of the building.

It is now the weekend and time to reflect on our instructions and study the script to make sure we know what we are doing. The next step will be costume fitting on Monday.
© Suzanne Senior. November 2016

We hope to carry more tales from behind the scenes of the show later in the week – if Suzanne’s knee has behaved itself!

In the meantime, you can go and see Suzanne and the rest of the#TwoCitiesTwelve on stage a the King’s every night this week, Tuesday 8 to Saturday 12. Together with a full professional cast.


A Tale of Two Cities
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ.
Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 November 2016
Daily: 7.30pm; Matinee Wed and Sat 19: 2.30pm.
Details and tickets from:




Tags: , , , , , ,